Monthly Archives: July 2009

SF/SOS 2009 joint conference Nov. 5-8, Houston

The 2009 joint conference of the Shakespeare Fellowship and the Shakespeare Oxford Society will be held November 5-8 at the Houston Intercontinental Airport Doubletree Hotel in Houston, Texas.

The cost for full registration is $200 that includes presentations, Saturday luncheon buffet and Sunday luncheon banquet.

Preliminary list of presenters:

  • Frank Davis: The “Bard’s” Six Signatures
  • Alex McNeil: Is “Shakespeare” in Jeopardy?
  • Hank Whittemore: Shakespeare’s Treason
  • Keir Cutler: Teaching Shakespeare and Is Shakespeare Dead? by Mark Twain
  • Earl Showerman: Trolius and Cressida — Shakespeare’s Homeric Satire
  • Paul Altrocchi: How to Baste and Barbeque an Upstart Daw
  • Ron Hess: Did Thomas Sackville influence Shake-speare’s Sonnets?
  • Richard Whalen: The Influence of Commedia dell ‘Arte in Shakespeare — Italian Theater Unknown in England but Known to Oxford
  • John Hamill: A Spaniard in the Elizabethan Court — Don Antonio Perez
  • Marty Hyatt: Heaven’s Sweetest Air
  • Ren Draya: Music in Othello
  • John Shahan: Declaration of Reasonable Doubt:  Strategy Implications for Oxfordians
  • Matthew Cossalatto: Posthumous Sonnet Publication
  • Tom Regnier: Law in the Sonnets

Register online for the SF/SOS annual conference at:

The Houston Intercontinental Airport Doubletree Hotel has reserved a block of rooms at a reduced rate of $99 a night (plus tax and fees). The hotel provides a free shuttle service to the George Bush International Airport. Online reservations for Houston Intercontinental Airport DoubletreeHotel:

Attendance options:
One Day Registration: Thursday $35 (Presentations only)
One Day Registration: Friday $60 (Presentations only)
One Day Registration: Saturday $60 (Presentations only)
One Day Registration: Sunday $35 (Presentations only)
Saturday Luncheon Buffet: $35
Sunday Luncheon Banquet: $35
Special student and teacher rate: $15 (For Saturday 1:00 – 6:30 p.m. only)

Cossolotto Praises Supreme Court Justices

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY – July 24, 2009 – President of the Shakespeare Oxford Society and executive speechwriter and coach, Matthew Cossolotto, presented a rare double “Standing O Award” to US Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens and Antonin Scalia for speaking out on the Shakespeare Authorship Question and expressing their support for Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, as the true author of the Shakespeare works.

Cossolotto made his announcement today in a short video on YouTube. Please click on this link to view the video:

SOS on Facebook

SOS board member and publications committee member Brian Bechtold opened the SOS Facebook page today at

He was assisted by Stuart Green and Julia Bechtold. Julia helped with initial building of the site and both assistants suggested items to be included.

“We are attempting to appeal to a younger, more Internet-savvy crowd,” Bechtold said. “We need to keep things happening on the site — news, discussions, answering questions,  leading readers to relevant sites — so they return to the SOS Facebook page on a regular basis, rather than becoming a fan and moving on to the next one.”

Those who are interested in working with Bechtold on ideas for keeping the SOS Facebook site interesting and relevant to users may contact him at:

Visit the site today at and become a FAN to help spread the word.

Much Ado on the Hudson

Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival at Boscobel on the Hudson

Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival at Boscobel on the Hudson

Reviewed by Stephanie Hughes

My family and I had a wonderful time last weekend at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s production of Much Ado About Nothing, performed in (and around) a big circus type tent on the grounds of Boscobel, one of the great estates that line the Hudson River as it approaches Manhattan. Rather than a painted backdrop, the audience sees the action taking place before a living vista of the valley as day draws slowly down to night. Located at one of the most scenic junctures of the river, facing West Point on the western shore, the river dotted with sailboats, it’s as though one of the great nineteenth century paintings from the Hudson River School has come to three-dimensional life.

Like most of the audience, we picnicked first on the lawn.  Once within the theater tent where protected from the weather — though luckily we needed no protection on this beautiful evening — we observed the odd behavior of some beings from another time. We could have been sitting with the English Court on the lawn of some great estate in one of the summer bowers built to keep off the weather, watching the original cast perform this play.

Although the director calls his preferred style of costume design steampunk, the result for the audience is a happy submersion in the holiday world that Shakespeare portrays in most of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, parts of Twelfth Night, Act IV of A Winter’s Tale, Act V of Two Gents, and most of As You Like It, holiday plays meant to be performed out of doors in good weather.  Far more than we could ever be in a theater, here at Boscobel we are in the Old English holiday world of merry-making where there is no past or future.  One enters into it, has as good a time as possible, and leaves it when it’s time to return to the workaday world of clocks and calendars. In this world there is no past or future, so costumes can relate to any period. It’s the audience who, oddly dressed in T shirts and shorts, seem tourists from another time.

Much Ado is a comedy, of course, so out under the summer sky these professionals played it broadly and yet not so broadly that the tenderness is lost, for this is one of the most delicately tender of the Shakespeare romances. The actors who perform the roles of Beatrice and Benedick are more than up to the challenge, Jason O’Connell in particular bringing a wonderfully silly vision of Benedick as a louche narcissist who literally falls all over himself when he finds himself falling in love, while Nance Williamson is all anyone could wish as the as the sharp-tongued but tender-hearted Beatrice. “Everybody plays the fool, one time, there’s no exception to the rule,” goes the old song, and Shakespeare, and this wonderfully intuitive version of Benedick express this timeless message, so welcome on a warm and timeless midsummer eve.

I urge all who live in the New York area to see the show. The work is played in repertory with Pericles through July 31 in Garrison, New York, 8 miles north of the Bear Mountain Bridge on Route 9D.  Directions from Manhattan, New Jersey, and Westchester are on the website:

The director of Much Ado, John Christian Plummer, is an Oxfordian — with a TV series based on Mark Anderson’s biography, Shakespeare by Another Name, up his sleeve —  and although I don’t see how knowing that affects a particular performance, if in any way it inspired this excellent version of this wonderful play, then efforts to get the Oxford story told have borne some truly excellent fruit.

Stephanie Hughes is an educator and writer who lives in Nyack, NY. She is a former editor of the Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter and the SOS journal, The Oxfordian. Her work can be viewed on her blog, Politic Worm at

K.C. Ligon (1948-2009)

K.C. Ligon (1948-2009) in 1981

K.C. Ligon (1948-2009) in 1981

Remembering K.C. — Hank Whittemore memorializes an Oxfordian friend

Friends, colleagues and students of Katherine Dunfee Clarke (K.C.) Ligon gathered on June 22 in New York to celebrate the life of this multi-talented and beloved actress, dialect coach, teacher, writer and leader of the modern Oxfordian movement, who died on March 23 at age sixty after battling a long illness. The memorial service took place in the heart of the Broadway theatre district on a Monday evening — when most stages are dark — at the legendary Circle in the Square, where K.C. was on the faculty of the Theatre School specializing in voice, speech and dialects.

In a parallel life, K.C. was deeply involved in the effort to establish Edward de Vere as Shakespeare. Twenty years ago she won a playwriting contest sponsored by Ruth Miller (1922-2005), a giant of Oxfordian research, and they became close friends. She served on the Board of Trustees of the Shakespeare Fellowship, was a top contributor to its website discussion forum (logging 4,871 posts since 2002) and wrote articles for the various Oxfordian publications.  Recently she co-authored “The Harvey-Nashe Quarrel and Love’s Labor’s Lost” with German scholar Robert Detobel that is published on Robert Brazil’s Elizabethan Authors website. She also created three blogs: K.C. Ligon’s Blog: About Theatrical, Truly Shakespearean Life, Shakespeare and Elizabeth: The Myth and the Reality, and Actors and Accents: The Actors’ Dialect Workbook.

At her memorial, after the crowd took seats at one end of the Circle’s theater-in-the-round, speaker after speaker turned the occasion into an emotion-charged outpouring of affection mixed with laughter and tears, prompted by anecdotes about K.C. as a tough-minded, bluntly honest, thoroughly professional teacher and coach with deep reservoirs of empathy along with humor and insight as well as personal style and flair.

K.C. was fond of saying she had been a professional performer most of her life, born to it, not in a trunk but appearing on stage even before she was born – in 1948, when her mother Nora Dunfee was acting in Red Peppers by Noel Coward.  She made her Broadway debut at eight in the Dylan Thomas play Under Milk Wood and at eleven appeared with both parents — her father was actor David Clarke — in the national tour of The Visit with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. A member of the first graduating class of New York University Tish School of the Arts Graduate Acting Program, she built an impressive resume of stage and television credits while also becoming a professional writer.

K.C. designed dialects for entire Broadway productions and for regional theatre companies around the country. As a dialect consultant she worked with scores of extraordinary actors such as James Earl Jones, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Estelle Parsons. She also worked with actor Tom Ligon – whom she married in 1976 and who, at the memorial, introduced a video montage of K.C. in photographs that was both funny and deeply moving.

Also at the service was K.C.’s younger sister, Susan Dunfee; Theodore Mann, co-founder of the Circle in the Square Theatre; actor-director Austin Pendleton; and many others who told how K.C. had “performed miracles” helping hundreds of professional performers and students with phrasings, breath control, accents and interpretations of their acting roles.

One graduate of her instructions told how K.C. transformed a young man who “sounded like a thug” into a polished professional announcer; another recalled that after K.C. became too ill to travel uptown to the Theatre School, she summoned everyone down to her apartment in Greenwich Village and held class there. Tom Ligon described how she was able to help actors adopt dialects indirectly, that is, by immersing them within their characters’ settings until their accents and speech patterns began to change on their own.

By the time it was my turn to speak I realized I was opening a window on a related yet very different aspect of K.C.’s life – the Oxfordian world. I found myself talking about our friendship, our talks on the phone, conversations by email and many long, often daily discussions about various topics surrounding the issue of Shakespearean authorship. When I took my seat again a woman rose to her feet and recalled how K.C. had spoken to her often about the Earl of Oxford, citing the evidence for his authorship of the Shakespeare works.

“So when I heard she died,” the woman said, “I imagined her ascending into heaven and looking down upon us, with that sultry smile of hers, and saying, ‘I was right, wasn’t I!'”

Yes, K.C., you were right — in so many, many ways.

Hank Whittemore is a former professional actor and the author of eleven books including The Monument, elucidating the world of Shakespeare’s sonnets ( He currently performs a solo show based on the book, entitled Shake-speare’s Treason (, co-written with Ted Story, director.  He lives in Nyack, New York, with his wife Glo and their son Jake.  Hank also produces a blog (

K.C. Ligon’s blogs are available on the Web at:

Detobel/Ligon article on Elizabethan Authors

A number of articles by the German Oxfordian researcher, Robert Detobel, are available to be read at the Elizabethan Authors site, published by Robert Brazil. See:
The featured article, “The Harvey-Nashe Quarrel and Love’s Labour’s Lost,” was co-written by Detobel and the late K.C. Ligon. A tribute to K.C. Ligon appears with the article.

Robert Brazil is also author of the 1609 Chronology blog at

Alan Navarre: Oxfordian playwright

This interview appears in the June 2009 issue of the Shakespeare-Oxford Newsletter.

The Crown Signature, a play in three acts, by Alan Navarre, was published in April by New Theatre Publications of Cheshire, England. Navarre is a playwright and screenwriter who lives in San Luis Obispo, California.

SOS: Has the attention given the authorship debate by the Wall Street Journal April 18 coverage of Oxfordians Justice John Paul Stevens and Justice Antonin Scalia boosted interest in your play?

Navarre: Yes, I hope the eminent justices’ opinions will boost Oxfordian momentum and swing the doors wide open for the play and film projects.

SOS: What prompted you to write The Crown Signature?

Navarre: Someone had to answer the historical distortionist plays and film trends. I was particularly irritated by Shekhar Kapur — the director of Elizabeth, the 1998 film starring Cate Blanchett — saying he hates history. Is that surreal? That’s when I picked up the gauntlet.

SOS: Do you think that movies should be historically accurate?

Navarre: Hollywood says it must make only films that sell, whereas the logical inference is Hollywood makes only films it wants the public to buy. But I feel in the current zeitgeist people are rejecting the “programming” of traditional media and are rediscovering critical thinking.

SOS: Does that mean you’ll make money?

Navarre: Well, a long Broadway or London West End run may pay a playwright relatively well, especially if Ms. Blanchett is starring in The Crown Signature! But there’s plenty of star power for a film and for as many stage productions as the world will bear.

SOS: Is anyone going to buy your version of historical accuracy?

Navarre: I’m encouraged by the digging and discovering that’s ongoing in all areas of the authorship debate. I’ve had excellent correspondence from Robert Brazil and W. Ron Hess on the scholarly status of the autograph, for which I’m infinitely grateful.

SOS: Which interpretation of de Vere’s signature does your play deliver?

Navarre: It isn’t meant to promote an interpretation. My great hope is that Horace’s principle will obtain, dulce et utile, both delighting audiences and raising consciousness.

SOS: Are you a proponent of the Edward VII theory of the crown signature?

Navarre: Seeing through a glass darkly to the latter 1500s and concluding an absolute no or yes to any signature theory may be unwarranted. The truth of the past is our challenge to decipher. We’re bound by the duty of de mortuis nihil nisi bonum — one breaches that duty to one’s peril. As for the tournaments scoring nomenclature theory I wonder that someone of Edward Oxenford’s urbanity would dabble with these jots and tittles in connection with his name to remind the Cecils of his rank. Even Oxfordian scholars who prefer this interpretation admit there’s no evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt to prove what Oxford intended by the embellishment. Historically theoretically I would rather appeal to Carolly Erickson’s inference: “Elizabeth . . . it was said, was seducing handsome young men. . . . Prominent among these favorites was Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. . . . Oxford excelled at those courtly graces Elizabeth admired. . . . He was . . . the ideal partner for the queen (The First Elizabeth 267).”

The play opens with this prologue:

The play is based on letters and other documentation of Edward de Vere 17th Earl of Oxford, Queen Elizabeth I of England, plays and poetry of William Shake-speare, and such of other pertinent historical persons and events. It is intended that the spirit of the history portrayed is accurate and that historical facts are not distorted. Notwithstanding, the play can merely present an inferential account of the distant past.

And the leading tag line I hope will read: “Will the real Shakespeare and Elizabeth please stand up!”

Also published by New Theatre Publications, Navarre’s play The Devil’s Chaplain will premier in November 2009 at San Luis Obispo Little Theatre, in California. Navarre’s screenplay Draft Pick is under option by Flashlight Productions, London. His several years in software development culminated in an invention, for which a U.S. patent is pending. He is currently writing and marketing several plays and screenplays, as well as attending the San Luis Obispo School of Law partly in an effort to understand the mind of the Shakespeare canon’s author.

The Crown Signature by Alan Navarre
Full-length play, in three acts; running time: 2 hrs
Cast: five males, three females; supernumeraries, if available
Licensing fee: £35 per performance; theatres greater than 300 seats contact agent for fee:
New Theatre Publications:
tel: 0845 331 3516
fax: 0845 331 3518
Book fee: £6
Synopsis of the Play: The life of Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, populates many situations in the Shakespeare canon, while Oxford’s education, social experience, and early plays and poetry evince the potential genius of the later works. The Crown Signature investigates Oxford’s authorship connection in the light of his mysterious signing of documents and letters with flourishes designating seven crowns, implying King Edward the Seventh. Any pretension to such an act and the signer would have lost his head. Why had Queen Elizabeth allowed this? Oxford stopped using his crown signature immediately after Elizabeth’s death.

Letter from SOS President, Matthew Cossolotto

This letter appears in the June 2009 issue of the Shakespeare-Oxford Newsletter.

April 2009 may well be remembered ages and ages hence — hopefully sooner — as something of a watershed month in the Shakespeare authorship mystery. With apologies to Robert Frost, the prophesy of this slightly edited stanza from “The Road Not Taken” may indeed come to pass:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two birthdays diverged in a month, and I—
I took the one less toasted by,
And that has made all the difference.

Those of us who have not taken what appears to be a dead-end road to Stratford-upon-Avon, should be heartened by several developments around April 2009. These developments put both the authorship question and the case for Oxford on the map in a big way.

We just might be seeing some big mo — as in momentum — for the Big O.

The alleged birthday of William Shakespeare is celebrated around the world on April 23. Many media outlets in many countries routinely run a “Happy Birthday Will” story. We know this is going to happen every year and we should do what we can each April to raise the authorship issue and encourage consideration of the Oxford theory.

Again this April, SOS issued a press release about the bogus “Shakespeare” birthday. Here’s a link to the press release, which was posted on our new SOS blog: “Toast But Verify”

As readers of this newsletter know, Edward de Vere’s birthday happens to fall in April 12. That means when Oxford is finally recognized as the real author behind the Shakespeare works people will continue to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday in April.

Two birthdays diverged in a month, and we have celebrated the one less toasted; but this will change.

This year something unexpected happened a few days before the annual April 23 birthday celebration in Stratford-upon-Avon. It’s fair to say that the annual Bard B-Day Bash was marred somewhat by an unwelcome — from the Stratfordian viewpoint – reminder that all is not quiet on the Shakespeare authorship front.

I refer to the front-page story in the Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2009, to a jarring headline for those of the Stratfordian persuasion: “Justice Stevens Renders an Opinion on Who Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays: It Wasn’t the Bard of Avon, He Says; ‘Evidence Is Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’”

How refreshing to see those powerful words in print, on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. The evidence against the Stratfordian theory “. . . is beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Worth noting: Justice Antonin Scalia declared publicly that he, like Stevens, is an Oxfordian! It is interesting that Stevens and Scalia, whose opinions on most legal issues diverge significantly, find themselves in agreement on the case for Oxford.

If you missed the WSJ article, it’s well worth a careful reading. Please visit the News & Events page on the SOS website or go directly to the WSJ.

Here’s a quick rundown of other recent developments that may be seen one day as part of a major turning point in the authorship debate:

Article in the UK’s Evening Standard, April 23, 2009:
“Shakespeare did not write his own plays, claims Sir Derek Jacobi.” Both Sir Derek and Mark Rylance are referred to as signatories of the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt. The article says both Shakespearean actors believe Shakespeare’s works were written by an aristocrat. Sir Derek said he was 99.9 percent certain that the actual author was Edward de Vere.

Shakespeare Authorship Coalition marks second anniversary of the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt about the Identity of William Shakespeare. SAC issues April 13, 2009 press release announcing: Michael York has joined fellow actors as a Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) Patron; Seven signatories added to SAC notables list.

The thirteenth annual Shakespeare Authorship Studies Conference is held at Concordia University April 16-19, 2009. For a detailed account of the conference, see Richard Joyrich’s article in this newsletter. I also found Bill Boyle’s blog, Shakespeare Adventure, entries on the conference very informative.

Oberon Shakespeare Study Group in Michigan celebrates Shakespeare’s UN-Birthday on April 23. Visit the Oberon group’s blog for details.

Lee Rosenbaum, a blogger known as CultureGrrl, outs herself as an Oxfordian –she calls herself a deVere-ian. I found her discussion on her blog to be very interesting, especially her suggestion that “Shakespeare” was de Vere’s alter ego in the sonnets. I’ve been kicking that idea around for sometime myself.

A few authorship-related blogs have been launched recently – in and around April 2009: Visit Stephanie Hopkins Hughes’s Politic Worm; Robert Brazil’s 1609 Chronology blog. Also, I’m in the early stages of developing a blog dedicated to the relatively narrow –but extremely important — hypothesis that the 1609 volume of Shakespeare’s Sonnets was published posthumously. Please visit Shakespeare’s Sonnets 1609 to offer comments and share ideas.

May 3 article in the UK’s Sunday Express — now removed from their website – included several comments that Kenneth Branagh is reported to have made in Los Angeles at the April 29 US premiere of the new PBS mystery series Wallander. Branagh is reported to have said:

There is room for reasonable doubt. De Vere is the latest and the hottest candidate. There is a convincing argument that only a nobleman like him could write of exotic settings.

A version of the report can be viewed at Top News.

So there seems to be some big mo for the Big O right now. We need to seize the public awareness initiative and build on the recent momentum. I strongly encourage members of the society to widely circulate the WSJ and Evening Standard articles to friends, relatives, media contacts, teachers, professors, clergy, neighbors and members of congress. These articles lend enormous credibility to our central messages: that the authorship question is a legitimate issue for serious discussion and the case for Oxford’s authorship is very persuasive.

As always, thank you for your ongoing support as we endeavor to fulfill our mission of researching and honoring the true Bard.

Matthew Cossolotto, President
Shakespeare-Oxford Society
June 2009 Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter

Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter out

A new issue of the quarterly Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter has been published thanks to the work of many fine writers and skilled editors including former editor Lew Tate, the entire Shakespeare-Oxford Society Publications Committee: Chairman John Hamill, Katherine Chiljan, Richard Smiley, Ramon Jimenez, Frank Davis, Brian Bechtold and Jim Brooks, and to Richard Whalen and all the Oxfordians whose generosity inspired this effort.

In this space we will preview the current newsletter with a letter from SOS President Matthew Cossolotto and an interview with playwright Alan Navarre. Other articles in the current issue include:
a report of the thirteenth Shakespeare Authorship Studies Conference by Richard Joyrich, MD
a commentary on the April 2009 Wall Street Journal article on Justice John Paul Stevens’ Oxfordian point-of-view by R. Thomas Hunter, PhD
a translation and elucidation of Spanish ambassador Antonio Perez’s letters by John Hamill,
an article on the relevance of Shakspere’s signatures by Frank Davis
and a review of Stanley Wells’ Is It TrueWhat They Say about Shakespeare? by Richard Whalen.

Hardcopy of the newsletter is available as a benefit of Shakespeare-Oxford Society membership. Support SOS by joining online at: Membership also includes hardcopy of the SOS annual journal, The Oxfordian — a new issue of The Oxfordian is due out in time for the SF/SOS joint conference in Houston November 5-8, 2009.

Linda Theil, Editor
Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter

Shakespeare festival in Concord Massachusetts July 31-August 2, 2009

Shakespeare lovers and members of the Shakespeare Fellowship in Concord, Massachusettes will hold their second annual Shakespeare Festival July 31 – August 2, 2009 at the Concord Free Public Library, 129 Main Street; and Masonic Temple, 58 Monument Square in Concord. Donations are accepted to support the event and information is available at their website:

This year’s theme is “Much Ado about Shakespeare: Celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the Publication of the Sonnets”. The program includes:
a eurythmic performance of Shakespeare’s sonnets and songs,
Joseph Eldredge performing An Uncommon Nobel Tells All wherein Oxord’s seventeenth earl talks with Lady Mary (Sydney) Wroth,
Dick Desper presenting “Who Are You?” a talk about Shakespearean authorship,
Robert Horner’s “Shakespeare’s Women: Why do they have to die?”,
Charles Boyle, Bill Boyle and John Sterling Walker on Richard II,
Richard Kotlarz’s “Shakespeare: the Monetary Backdrop”,
David Conte’s “Three Shakespeare Songs by Ralph Vaughn Williams”,
Brian Luedluff’s “Shakespeare in a Tarnhelm”
and other offerings in the entire program available online at